Monday, March 11, 2013

Goodman Theatre Announces 2013-14 Slate of Performances

Chicago's Goodman Theatre has announced its 2013-14 "Dream Season," with an emphasis on women directors and playwrights. The Goodman is billing this season as "Eight exquisite productions that offer you a magical, unparalleled theater experience."

Three of the five shows slated for the Albert Theatre space were created by women, from Cheryl L. West's Pullman Porter Blues to Rebecca Gilman's Luna Gale and Mary Zimmerman's The White Snake.

West is a University of Illinois alum whose early work premiered in Champaign-Urbana. Her play Jar the Floor was one of the first things I reviewed for the Champaign News-Gazette back in 1989. It was fabulous. Pullman Porter Blues premiered last year at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, where it was described as a "captivating coming of age story...woven with iconic blues music." Chuck Smith, who is celebrating twenty years of working with the Goodman Theatre, will direct Pullman Porter Blues, which is scheduled to begin September 18, 2013 in the Albert.

Next up is Gilman's Luna Gale, which opens January 18, 2014 and will be directed by Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls. Gilman is probably best known for The Glory of Living, Boy Gets Girl and Spinning Into Butter, all three of which received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play. Gilman is a multi-award winning playwright as well as an artistic associate at the Goodman. Her new work, Luna Gale, looks at a social worker who places a baby with the mother of a teen couple with addiction problems and how that decision spirals into terrible choices and possibly terrifying consequences.

Also in the Albert, David Ives' Broadway hit Venus in Fur starts March 8, 2014, in a production directed by Joanie Schultz. Ives plays off Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's "Venus in Furs," an 1870 novella about a man who fantasizes about being the sexual slave of the woman he desires. In Ives' updated version, we see a director confronted with (and fascinated by) a strange young actress who arrives to audition for him. Because it's David Ives, you know it's funny, but Venus in Fur also becomes dark and a little dangerous as the director and actress play cat and mouse with dominance and submission.

Mary Zimmerman's The White Snake, another in a series of Zimmerman's dazzling visual adaptations of classic stories, spins off from a Chinese fable about a snake who takes on human form and falls in love. Our snake heroine wants nothing more than to stay a woman forever, but her true reptile identity is discovered, threatening her happy human life. This "ravishing theatrical spectacle" opens May 3, 2014, with Zimmerman once again at the helm of her unique, amazing work.

Lerner and Loewe's Brigadoon, a musical fairytale about a Scottish town that appears for one day and then disappears for a hundred years, will close out the Albert season with performances from June 27 to August 3, 2014. The original 1947 Broadway production starred David Brooks as Tommy, the 20th century hero who stumbles onto Brigadoon, while the movie version in 1954 put Gene Kelly in the role. Brigadoon was revived for a one-night concert version in 2010 starring Jason Danieley, who just appeared at Chicago Shakes as George in Sunday in the Park with George, and Melissa Errico as the lovers separated by the vanishing village. Can we hope to get Danieley back for the Goodman's Brigadoon? I have no idea, but a girl can dream. Rachel Rockwell will direct.

The more intimate Owen Theatre will host Noah Haidle's Smokefall, a poetic exploration of family love and loss directed by Anne Kaufman, set to open October 5; Buzzer, a provocative and funny new piece about race and romance from Tracey Scott Wilson, author of The Good Negro, to be directed by Jessica Thebus in performances beginning February 8, 2014; and Ask Aunt Susan, Seth Bockley's comic take on a man who gets sucked into pretending to be a female self-help guru on the internet. Deception, deception, deception... Ask Aunt Susan is scheduled for May, 2014, with Henry Wishcamper directing.

For information about all of these shows as well as subscriptions and tickets, you can visit the Goodman Theatre site here. It's worth it just for the beautiful images they've chosen to represent this dreamy season!


  1. Fascinating season! I'm not familiar with most of these, but I did see "Venus in Fur" on Broadway. That's what Nina Arianda won her Tony for, and most deservedly. She's just one of those magnetic performers that you want to keep watching; and the role is that sort of role too: it's a gift to a fearless, varied actress, but I bet it could intimidate or put off others.

    And of course I know my "Brigadoon." Jason Danieley is of course perfect for Tommy, as you say. I was able to see it at NY City Opera a while back, conducted by John McGlinn with the leads from his recording: Rebecca Luker, Brent Barrett, and Judy Kaye. Good times.

  2. If anything tempts you to come back to Chicago to see it, let me know. I will meet you there in a minute. Meanwhile, I'm still serious about Williamstown.